Tag Archives: U.S.

Turkey Plays a Dangerous Game

Russia has sent in military hardware to Syria to consolidate its presence in the Levant. The “Carter Doctrine, the imperialist stance codified by former President Jimmy Carter in 1979: that any threat to U.S. oil interests in the Middle East would be met with a military response. Followed by every U.S. president since, this policy has cost millions of working class lives.”  The Carter Doctrine means that any threat to the US’s hold over Middle East (ME) oil is a threat to the US itself. Russia is doubling down on their base in Tartus and expanding into at least one bigger air base in Latakia. The US asked Greece to not allow Russia to use its air space to supply its forces. Russia was borrowing the same excuse of humanitarian imperialism that the US uses of fighting terror, but Greece had no problem defying the US and letting Russia use its airspace.

The simple reason why Greece was able to defy the US comes down to Russia’s TurkStream pipeline. This pipeline provides the potential of vast profit to the Greek ruling class that has been under the iron heel of the US dominated Troika(the EU, IMF, and ECB). As these wars in the Levant and the rest of the ME, like Yemen, continue to escalate, they are indicative of a more and more desperate class of international imperialists that has less and less room to maneuver and are now actively participating in the wars that they were at first fighting by proxy. This is a step towards all out inter-imperialist world war.

The TurkStream pipeline will help to alleviate the reliance on Ukraine as an oil transit route. This is a direct slap in the face of the US and its Nazi servants that overthrew the democratically elected Russian aligned government in the name of democracy. “The outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in November 2013 marked the beginning of the end for the South Stream project. Western countries responded to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014 with a series of sanctions that targeted a number of Russian officials. The subsequent crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 after being shot down over Ukraine in July 2014 led to the sanctions’ expansion, this time against the Russian banks that were financing South Stream.” The members of the working class that were killed in the plane crash became an excuse for the US led West to push its political agenda against Russia. Regardless of who was responsible for the crash, a Ukrainian fighter jet or Separatist missile, the imperialist agenda was all that mattered to the ruling capitalist class.

The danger with Turkey moving closer to Russia is that it “would be able to remove itself from reliance on Ukraine-transited gas”. Turkey is playing a dangerous game because this means that Turkey would not have to rely on US dominated sectors for its natural gas needs. This illustrates a contradiction within the contradiction, since Turkey is a NATO member, it is ostensibly an ally of the US, but Turkey has its own expansionist designs in the Levant as it is hearing echoes of its Ottoman past. So, though in the long term it may, paralleling history, rival Russia for control of the Levant, it can easily pad its coffers now at the expense of being tied to the US leash of power and control. Maximum profits today can mean much more than loyalty and will be able to provide Turkey with the financing necessary for it to carry out its expansionist designs in the Levant through a continuance of financing to the death cult Islamists that it outright supports, the useful enemies of ISIS it allegedly covertly supports, and the vast amount of economic resources that its army needs in order to secure its outright expansionism.

The imperialist proxy war in Ukraine is now in an apparent ceasefire due to the fact that Russia is doing its best to isolate Ukraine from the world’s pipeline chess board. The US and its EU allies were hoping to have the Nabucco pipeline flow natural gas through Turkey, but that project is on hold. “In fact, Russia has the opportunity to export its gas via TAP from the Turkish Stream toward Europe, without Gazprom’s presence in the TAP Consortium and without breaching the TEP rules.” These pipeline wars in the Levant, Syria and Iraq, have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of workers, displaced over 10 million workers, and have caused the migration of millions more workers looking for shelter and safety after imperialist financed jihadists and mercenary armies have destroyed their homes.

Another intensification of the inter-imperialist rivalry is between Russia and Israel since Russia is doubling down on the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean it now has access to all of the natural gas that is there. This natural gas is a valuable asset to sell to the EU. Israel is worried since it can no longer bomb Hezbollah at will due to the anti-aircraft missiles which have already shot down at least one Israeli fighter and the interceptor aircraft that Russia has given to Syria.  Israel won’t be able to bomb Syria’s forces or Hezbollah at will if it will begin having its planes continually shot down by AA missiles and intercepter jet fighters.   Israel is now going to be meeting with Russia to discuss what is going to be done about Hezbollah, a valuable Assad ally.

Regardless of how things intensify, it will be the working class that will continue to suffer as millions of refugees continue to lose their homes due to imperialist proxy wars to dominate geostrategic resources. Capitalism needs to be smashed by Communist revolution, and only the Progressive Labor Party can lead this revolution. Our line, our analysis, our international vision of a world based on meeting the needs of the whole of humanity regardless of race or gender is the shining beacon of hope in this run up to open imperialist war. Just as at the dawn of the last world war, two roads are open to humanity, the road of barbarism or the road of Communism. The capitalists want to march us to their parasitical barbarism again and again, but PLP knows that we will be able to organize a Communist revolution to flush capitalism down the toilet of history.

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Will U.S. Invade Pakistan?

PAKISTAN –– On September 14, Pakistan troops fired shots into the air to stop U.S. troops crossing into the South Waziristan region of Pakistan. A couple of weeks before, twenty Pakistani villagers, including women and children, were killed when the U.S. troops crossed the border from Afghanistan to supposedly attack Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry immediately condemned it as “a grave provocation.” Seven days later Bush announced U.S intentions to continue the raids — with or without the approval of the Pakistani government — and to send additional troops to Afghanistan (Obama and McCain  agree on expanding the war in this region.)   

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 1,500-mile border, that 19th century British imperialists arbitrarily cut through mountainous land inhabited by Pashtuns. U.S. insistence that the Pakistan military crack down on the Taliban has caused a backlash against the army by Pakistani fundamentalists (often Pashtuns) and al Qaeda (foreign jihadists). The fierce confrontations have killed many civilians and left thousands homeless. In Afghanistan, the seven-year U.S.-NATO occupation has worsened conditions for the majority of Afghans. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed this year.  

The U.S. and its ally, India, claim that Pakistan is the center and cause of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, accusing members of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of helping the Taliban. This is the excuse for the recent U.S. invasion of Pakistani territory. The U.S. wants to replace its decades-long  indirect domination of Pakistan with direct military control. 
A 2005 report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the CIA, forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate.” for Pakistan. A former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK predicted that, “The central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi, by 2015.” (Times of India 13 Feb 2005). 
Breaking up Pakistan would facilitate U.S. exploitation of the vast energy reserves of the Caspian Sea region to the north. Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of Barak Obama’s foreign policy advisors wrote in 1990,  “The Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.”   U.S. oil companies plan to build pipelines to transport that oil and gas from the region through Afghanistan and Balochistan — a Pakistan province — to the Arabian Sea and so to markets in Europe and Asia. If the U.S. is unable to secure this pipeline, Russia — and China — may monopolize the Caspian oil fields.  The survival of the U.S. as a leading imperialist power depends on the  control of the world’s energy sources — a point emphasized this week as oil baron Cheney shuttled around the Caspian States meeting local rulers and representatives of Chevron and BP. As Brzezinski noted, “whoever controls Eurasia controls the world.”

The U. S. is now sponsoring India’s membership in NATO, which will add one more powerful U.S. ally to the growing circle around Russia. When the Indian army took part in NATO exercises in Arizona in August, Russia retaliated by announcing that its strategic bombers would patrol the Indian Ocean. The U.S. and India signed a nuclear arms agreement that, according to Administration officials, “seals a long-term strategic alliance between the two countries, which had tense relations during the Cold War.”  With a rapidly expanding capitalist economy, seeking new markets, trading partners and oil, India also has interests in the Caspian Sea reserves and has its own plans for pipelines from Iran, through Balochistan to India.  

Nationalism and religion are constantly being used by the ruling classes to divide workers and their allies. In Pakistan, India has joined with the U.S and Britain to covertly support and arm the separatist Balochistan Liberation Movement. In Indian-controlled Kashmir tension is growing between Muslim and Hindu, fundamentalists and secularists, and spreading to the border with Pakistan in the east.

The former Yugoslavia was broken up in part with the promotion of nationalism and the organization of separatist militias. For Yugoslavia’s working class the result was fascist/racist terror, bloody civil wars and atrocities. Revolutionary communists must show the Afghan, Pakistan, and Indian working class and its allies — Pashtuns, Balochis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Hindus  — that nationalism is not the answer to their problems. That is the goal of the PLP in the region. Join us!

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Is There An Obesity Pandemic?

This is Part 1 of a five-part series. Part 2 will discuss whether these statistics about the “obesity epidemic” are believable — a specific example of how we decide what’s true and what’s not. Part 3  talks about the health consequences of overweight and obesity.  Part 4: the causes of the obesity problem. Part 5: what can be done about the obesity problem — and how this relates to politics.

You can hardly pick up a magazine or newspaper these days and not read something about being fat and losing weight. Headlines trumpet that we’re in the midst of an obesity “epidemic” — not only in the rich countries but even in poorer countries around the world. But is this epidemic real?

Then there’s the debate about the health effects of being “overweight” — not really fat (that is, “obese”), but just a few pounds above what’s considered normal. Some scientists argue that being even a little overweight increases the risk of dying early or getting heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.  Other researchers claim that being a little heavy isn’t bad for you and, in fact, may even be good for you if you’re middle-aged or older.
Finally, there’s tremendous controversy about the causes of obesity as well as the best way to lose weight and keep the pounds off. Do you have to eat less or just change what you eat? What about low fat and low carbs. Soda and fruit juice? Where does exercise fit in?

All of which brings up a basic question for all of us: when it comes to important — and maybe even controversial — questions, how do we know what’s really true? That’s a question that matters not only for health, but for everything we do in our personal lives, our work, and our political activities.
Let’s look at some facts — in this case, statistics collected by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (You can get information on this issue from the website http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity).

How Do You Define ‘Fat’?

“Overweight” and “obese” are both terms for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI).  BMI is used because, for most people, it goes along with their amount of body fat. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared:

BMI = weight (kg)/height (m2)

To figure out BMI using pounds and inches, multiply weight in pounds by 700, divide the result by height in inches, and then divide that result by height in inches a second time. You can find a BMI calculator at http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi).

BMI is used to classify people as “overweight” or “obese” as follows:
* An adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
* An adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

How Fat Are People in the United States?

What do the statistics based on BMI show? In the U.S., the amount of overweight and obesity in the population has increased sharply since the 1970’s for both adults and children. Two national surveys (NHANES — the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys) show that among adults aged 20-74 years, the amount of obesity increased from 15.0% (in the 1976-1980 survey) to 33% (in the 2003-2004 survey). These two surveys also show increases in overweight among children and teens. For children aged 2-5 years, the amount of overweight increased 5% to 14%; for those aged 6-11 years, from 6.5% to 19%; and for those aged 12-19 years, from 5% to 17%. See included graphs for another view of the trends in overweight and obesity in the U.S.

How Fat Are People Around the World?

This is indeed a world-wide problem, reflecting capitalist development trends in many countries (more high-calorie food available and more sedentary lifestyles as people move from agricultural work to office and factory jobs). (Data here from World Cancer Research Fund: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer, 2007.) Most recent estimates suggest that in 2002 there were 1 billion overweight or obese people worldwide. In China, where capitalism has returned with a vengeance, the amount of underweight adults has decreased and the numbers of people who are either overweight or obese has risen substantially. In 2002 there were 184 million overweight and 31 million obese people in China, out of a population of 1.3 billion.
The World Health Organization has found that over a 10-year period in the 1980s and ‘90s, the average BMI increased in most populations. Historically, starvation, underweight, and infection were the main nutrition-related public health problems in middle- and low-income countries. This is no longer the case. Surveys have shown that overweight exceeds underweight in most model- and low-income countries, including those in North Africa and the Middle East, Central Asia, China, and Latin America. The rise of overweight and obesity since the mid-1970s has been two to four times faster in lower-income than higher-income countries. In some poorer countries, scientists now speak of a “dual burden”: obesity alongside starvation.J

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The recent revelation that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program for the last four years marks a step towards, not away from, wider war in the Middle East. Policy-makers representing the liberal, imperialist wing of U.S. rulers dropped the Iran bombshell in order to hamstring the remaining neocons in the lame-duck Bush administration. The liberals want to prevent Cheney & Co., whom they view as inept war makers, from launching an undermanned, unilateral military strike on Iran in their administration’s last year.

With the U.S. war machine bogged down in Iraq, the liberal rulers are buying time. They hope a Democratic president can mobilize the vast forces — both U.S. troops and allies — needed for inevitable clashes not just with Iran but with rivals China and Russia. Toning down the U.S.’s image as a racist torturer (while in no way eliminating actual torture) is crucial to this process. That’s why a “new and improved” liberal-led CIA revealed that the corrupt, incompetent old neocon CIA had, back in 2005, destroyed videotapes of torture at Guantanamo.


The “December Surprise” on Iran comes not from the White House but from a spy apparatus, once discredited for its Iraq weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco but newly rehabilitated by imperialist liberals. Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Rockefeller-led imperialists’ Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), boasted, “The intelligence community surprised everyone, including the Bush administration” (CFR website, 12/04/07). The liberal NY Times joined the chorus of praise: “The new national intelligence directorate is analyzing information more rigorously” (12/09/07).

Key to this pro-imperialist transformation has been Gen. Michael Hayden, CIA chief since 2006. Hayden serves the liberal wing. Bill Clinton chose him to direct the National Security Agency in 1999. His mentor in the Air Force was Gen. Charles Boyd, formerly executive director of the Hart-Rudman commission, which outlined U.S. capitalism’s plans for world domination for the next 25 years.

Boyd penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, “A Symphony for Hayden” at the time of his protégé’s CIA appointment last year. It was Hayden who blabbed about the Guantanamo torture tapes to pin the blame on Bush die-hards and cast his own crew as “reforming” white knights. Liberal Sen. Jay Rockefeller, while condoning torture, backs Hayden’s whistle-blowing because waterboarding “however well-intentioned, plays into the hands of our enemies” (NYT, 12/08/07). However, the Democrats were briefed about waterboarding back in 2002 and said nothing.


Mobilizing the U.S. militarily and building popular support for its wars are the chief tasks the liberal rulers lay upon the next President. CFR chairman Richard Haass told National Public Radio (12/08/07), “The new president will inherit a tremendously complex world and a U.S. less well-positioned to deal with it because our military is stretched and worn down and because of anti-Americanism.”

The liberals understand that Iran won’t be a quick “hit-and-run” job. Robert Blackwill, counselor at the CFR writes, “If diplomacy fails and the U.S. attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, the result would likely be a long war, as Tehran isn’t likely to surrender. Such use of force would also further destabilize the Middle East, inflame the Islamic world, strengthen terrorist forces everywhere and would probably produce attacks on the American homeland” (Wall Street Journal 12/6/07). So, to give the rulers time to militarize the U.S., the new intelligence estimate sets the timetable for action beyond the Bush gang’s term, declaring, “Iran will achieve nuclear weapons capabilities somewhere between 2009 and 2015.”


Robert Gates, the liberals’ replacement for Rumsfeld (Gates has worked for the Baker-Hamilton commission and the CFR), said there was no telling when the pretext for a U.S. invasion would arise. “Iran could restart those efforts at any time.” At a recent conference in Bahrain, Gates urged U.S. Mid-East allies to “develop regional air and missile defense systems” and maritime security to prepare for war against Iran. He promised that the U.S. was hell-bent on expanding its war for control of the region’s oil. “The United States remains committed to defending its vital interests and those of its allies in Iraq and in the wider Middle East” (NY Times, 12/09/07). “Vital interests” has been code for Mid-East oil ever since Jimmy Carter used the term in his Carter Doctrine and began the military build-up to secure it after the 1979 Iranian ayatollahs’ ouster of the Shah, a U.S. puppet.

All the Democratic candidates seek to meet their capitalist masters’ needs in ways that will shed even more workers’ blood. Supporting any of them would be a grave error. The course for our class must be to join and build the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party, which has the long-term outlook of destroying the profit system and its ever-deadlier wars.

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Navistar: Warmaker/Strike-breaker

CHICAGO, IL, December 11 — As we go to press, 4,000 Navistar workers are in the 7th week of their strike. Formerly International Harvester, Navistar is the world’s fourth largest truck builder, and the biggest supplier to the Pentagon of the MaxxPro engines for the blast-resistant trucks used in Iraq. In past years, it has closed unionized plants and moved to non-union plants in the South and Mexico. Navistar also entered a joint venture with India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. to build medium- and heavy-duty diesel engines, further driving down wages for all workers.

Not only has the UAW leadership failed to defend its members, it’s also failed to make organizing these non-union plants a strike demand. As is now true in auto, aerospace, steel and coal mining, most of Navistar’s plants are non-union.

The 500 workers at the Melrose Park engine plant, just outside Chicago, build MaxxPro engines. The MaxxPro chassis is built in Garland, Texas, and the trucks are assembled in West Point, Mississippi, both non-union plants. The union and the company are guaranteeing that Melrose Park continues to operate with scabbing supervisors and engineers, ensuring that the racist rulers can continue their imperialist bloodbath in Iraq. A big solidarity rally planned for December 5 was hastily cancelled the night before, partly because the UAW leadership feared it would make it possible for PLP and others to expose Navistar as a war-maker and strike-breaker, and show that U.S. and Iraqi workers face the same enemy and the same fight.
PLP is slowly but surely organizing support for the strike and attempting to build ties with some Navistar workers. Over the past week, groups of workers and students have walked the picket lines, talked to the strikers and distributed dozens of CHALLENGES.

While it’s not a strike against the war, it’s still significant that workers have struck a war profiteer amidst a war. (Last March, 7,000 shipbuilders in Pascagula, MS struck Northrop Grumman for one month.) Workers have given us a very warm welcome. We’ve learned a lot from them, but are just scratching the surface. We’ll do better at raising the strike at our workplaces, schools, unions and churches, not just to build support for striking workers, but to show how the working class has the power to end this war, and all wars, by uniting across all borders and fighting for communist revolution.

(Send statements of solidarity to: UAW Local 6, 3520 W. North Ave., Stone Park, IL 60165-1042)

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Rulers’ Rivalries A Killer for Workers

While working for a building subcontractor operating on site for a major aerospace company, we were again reminded that workers are expendable in the name of speed-up and profit. Last week, a young laborer was seriously shocked while removing a water heater from a bathroom wall, requiring hospital treatment.

The foreman told the young laborer to remove the box rather than follow the proper safety procedure and wait for an electrician. In order to reap maximum profits the bosses cut corners.

The laborer had only worked in construction three weeks. When he asked how to remove the box, the foreman simply said “Take the screws out and pull it off the wall.” He didn’t mention the possible electrical hazard a twenty-year old water heater posed. The 220-volt circuit that fed the water heater had been stripped bare over time. The stripped wiring made contact with the metal casing when the laborer pulled on the box. Since the laborer had both hands on the casing, his body made a circuit. The current held him onto the casing for five seconds before kicking him off.

When the laborer told the foreman what happened and that he didn’t feel good, the foreman laughed. “So you are telling me that you’re a dumbass and that you shocked yourself,” he said. He refused to let the laborer seek medical treatment. Finally, an hour later, a carpenter demanded the laborer be sent to the factory medical center. Factory medical sent him to the local hospital. The project superintendent ran down to the hospital, assuring the injured worker that it was a “freak accident” and “nobody’s fault.”

After the incident, we were forced to attend mandatory safety meetings. The general contractor and representatives from the aerospace company assured us they were going to get to the bottom of this. At first they acted as if people were going to be fired. As it became clear that the foreman was at fault, they decided to be lenient this time and not fire anyone. It came out later that the foreman had suggested a meeting involving only management and that the laborer should be fired for “incompetence.” In the end, the contractor and the aerospace company set up a safety liaison. The person chosen to fill that position was none other than the foreman who had almost gotten the laborer killed.

This was not the first problem we have had with this foreman. He was involved in the racist firing of a black worker just one month prior.

I’ve had a lot of great conversations with my fellow workers about the nature of management and how workplace safety is a joke. When a product can be potentially damaged safety is important, but when a lowly worker is at risk safety is ignored.

Aerospace is important if the bosses want to get serious about competing with the Chinese and Russian war machines. As the push for the “re-industrialization” of America grows stronger, increased fascism at work and in working-class neighborhoods once again reminds us that the bosses need us a lot more than we need them. Hopefully, this incident will help me turn my present-day CHALLENGE sales into a bigger network.

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